A Teen Dating Abuse Victim
Abuse occurs in all types of relationships and among people with varying backgrounds of age, race, religion, financial status, sexual orientation and education. Teen dating abuse is any act that causes harm or threatens the risk of harm to a teen by an individual who is in a current or former dating relationship with that teen. Teen dating abuse may be physical, sexual, financial, verbal or emotional in nature. While abuse often occurs as a pattern of controlling behavior, a single episode of abuse is cause for concern.
Dating violence, or teen dating abuse, is about the power and control that one person uses against a partner.
Teen dating abuse can include:
- Verbal or emotional abuse, such as threats, constant insults, isolation from friends/family, name-calling and controlling what someone wears or with whom they socialize
- Sexual abuse, which may range from unwanted sexual contact to rape
- Violent behaviors, such as hitting, punching and slapping, as well as stalking
- Abuse that can cause injury and even death
It is important for parent(s) to know whom your teens are dating and to talk with them about healthy relationships. Keep in mind that some teens may mistake attention as expressions of love when in fact they are warning signs of control.
Signs that a teen may be a victim of an abusive relationship:
- Giving up things that are important
- Isolation from friends
- Changes in appearance, weight, grades or behavior; these could be signs of depression, which can be an indicator of abuse
- Unexplainable injuries or explanations for injuries that don't make sense
- Afraid of partner or fearful of making partner angry
- Preoccupied with pleasing partner
- Apologizes for partner's behavior
- Gives excuses to questions about their relationship, such as "everything is under control" or "it's not your problem"
Signs of an abusive dating partner:
- Loses temper, breaks or hits things
- Monitors partners activities through cell phone, computer or social media
- Argues or fights with other people
- Extreme jealousy and insecurity
- Demanding to know whom their partner is with and where their partner has been
- Calls their partner names or puts down their partner in front of other people
If your teen does not choose to talk, they may still be listening. Ask if they would be more comfortable talking with someone else, such as a counselor, coach, friend or another trusted person.
Respond and Refer
It is important to get help safely. Most teens find it helpful to have added support when facing this kind of danger or intimidation. If you or someone you know is experiencing teen dating abuse; consider the following:
- Talk with your parent(s), guardian or other trusted adults.
- Reach out and talk with the teen you are concerned about, or with someone close to that teen who can be helpful.
- If you suspect sexual abuse or assault is occurring, you should report your concerns to your local child protective services agency or local law enforcement; you do not have to provide your name or number.
- Consult the National Dating Abuse Helpline at (866) 331-9474 (calls are anonymous and available 24 hours) or text "loveis" to 22522.
- Visit www.loveisrespect.org for resources, including an interactive guide to safety planning for high school and college students.
- To access additional resources for teens, please visit www.breakthecycle.org or www.thatsnotcool.com.